Peptidic spider toxins: a novel paradigm for control of insect pests (2010–2012)
The aim of this proposal is to develop new approaches for controlling insect pests that spread disease and cause billions of dollars damage annually to crops and livestock. The research program will build upon the recent discovery in Prof. King's laboratory that peptide toxins isolated from spider venom are orally active against a range of insect pests, and that this activity can be enhanced by fusing the toxins to plant lectins. We will use innovative approaches to improve the oral activity of these peptides by enhancing their ability to traverse insect gut epithelia. In addition, we will develop high-throughput methods for discovering new insecticidal peptides. The work has profound implications for arthropod pest control in Australia.